The Cincinnati Bearcats have truly had an unbelievable season. The Bearcats are 10-0 which is tied with Georgia amongst the top teams for the best record However, Georgia finds themselves ranked No.1 overall while Cincinnati sits in the fifth position.
Meanwhile, one-loss teams such as Alabama, Oregon, and Ohio State are all ranked within the top of 4 according to the CFP rankings. So is Cincinnati being disrespected? Or is there a logical explanation why they remain on the outside of the CFP rankings?
Strength of Schedule
The only explanation for the Bearcats still being out of the playoff picture is strength of schedule. Despite a victory over Notre Dame in October, they have not had much opponent resistance this season.
College Football Playoff chairman Gary Barta made this statement in regards to Cincinnati’s ranking;
“The committee has great respect for Cincy. The win at Notre Dame was a really impressive win. When you look at who they’ve played after that, who else did they beat?”
However, it is difficult to penalize a team for something they cannot control. The Bearcats did not create their 2021 schedule. Regardless, strength of schedule is something that has always factored into rankings within college sports.
Can the Bearcats Earn their Way into the Top 4?
Yes, but it won’t be easy.
Cincinnati has to win out for the remainder of the season. If they are able to dominate their wins that could enhance their chances as well. There will also be a lot of scoreboard watching from the Bearcats because if Alabama, Oregon, or Ohio State lose another game that would likely push the Bearcats into the College Football Playoffs.
So while they control part of their destiny, much of their future is out of their hands. The mindset in the Cincinnati locker room simply has to revolve around winning. As long as they continue to win they will have a shot of getting bumped up a spot.
Cincinnati is scheduled to battle a respectable 8-2 SMU team on Saturday, and then will finish off the season with a matchup against East Carolina (6-4) on Friday, November 26. While neither of these games would be considered surefire victories, the Bearcats should be able to win barring a complete meltdown.
SMU could genuinely give Cincinnati some trouble. They are a tough, grind-it-out kind of team who does not get intimidated regardless of opponent. As long as the Bearcats continue to bring tenacity and don’t take the matchup for granted, they will earn the victory in that must-win affair.
If Cincinnati takes care of business in these final two games, they will have to wait and hope for the best from the CFP committee. There is no question that they are in a difficult position right now, but they should be extremely proud of the season they have put together up to this point.
It will be exciting to see how this plays out and if the Bearcats can sneak into the postseason picture.